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Feast of George B. Caird (April 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Three of the Volumes to Which Caird Contributed

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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GEORGE BRADFORD CAIRD (JULY 17, 1917-APRIL 21, 1984)

English Congregationalist then United Reformed Minister, Biblical Scholar, and Hymn Writer and Translator

Also known as G. B. Caird

INTRODUCTION

George Bradford Caird comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible and two translations of the Bible.He wrote the introduction to and the exegesis of the Books of Samuel for Volume II (1953) of The Interpreter’s Bible.

Caird was one of the great Biblical scholars of the twentieth century.  He, a protégé of Charles Harold (C. H.) Dodd (1884-1973) and an influence on Nicholas Thomas (N. T.) Wright, was, depending on one’s perspective, too conservative, too liberal, or about right.  Fans of Burton Mack, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, and other members of that school that argues for discontinuity from Jesus to the early Church consider him too far to the right.  However, fundamentalists think he was too far to the left.  Caird accepted the Sources Hypothesis regarding much of the Hebrew Bible  and did not try to harmonize divergent voices in the New Testament, for example.

I argue that Caird was usually about right.

I using knowledge I have gained from belonging to a Historical Jesus-early Church reading group for a few years, place Caird on the spectrum.  I position him to the right of Borg, Crossan, and Mack, and slightly to the right of Luke Timothy Johnson, an effective critic of Borg, Crossan, and Mack.  Caird belongs in the same camp as his mentor, C. H. Dodd.  Most of Dodd’s endnotes in The Founder of Christianity (1970) are merely scriptural citations.  Caird’s influence is evident in N. T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God (1996), my copy of which I insist on keeping, even as I reduce the size of my library.  Caird’s works are slightly more optimistic regarding the Gospels as sources of information about the historical figure of Jesus than James D. G. Dunn‘s Jesus Remembered (2003), my copy of which I also insist on retaining.

BIOGRAPHY

George Bradford Caird belonged to the Reformed tradition.  He, born in Wandsworth, England, to Scottish parents on July 17, 1917, grew up in Birmingham, England.  He graduated from King Edward’s School, Birmingham; Peterhouse, Cambridge (B.A., 1939); and Mansfield College, Oxford (M.A., 1943; doctorate, 1944).  Our saint, ordained a Congregationalist minister, served as pastor of a church in Highgate, London.  In 1946, he and his wife, Viola Mary “Mollie” Caird, moved to Canada.  Our saint spent the rest of his life in academia.

Caird spent 1946-1959 in Canada.  He was initially Professor of Old Testament at St. Stephen’s College, Edmonton, Alberta.  By 1951 he was Professor of New Testament at McGill University and Principal of the Theological College of Montreal, Quebec.

Caird spent 1959-1984 at Oxford.  He was a senior tutor (1959-1969) at then the Principal (1970-1977) of Mansfield College, Oxford.  One of his more noteworthy students was the Reverend Brian Wren (born in 1936), one of the greatest hymn writers of the twentieth century.  From 1977 to 1984, Caird was the Dean Ireland’s Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture.  His successor was E. P. Sanders, author of Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1985), Jesus and Judaism (1985), and The Historical Figure of Jesus (1993).

Caird translated portions of the Bible.  He translated part of the Apocrypha/Deuterocanon of The New English Bible (1970), a project over which C. H. Dodd presided.  Our saint also worked on the The Revised English Bible (1989).  Caird preferred the dynamic equivalency approach to translating the Bible.  He criticized the Revised Standard Version (1952, 1971) for being overly literal, to the point of awkwardness in places.  Our saint’s preference for dynamic equivalency was consistent with his literary style, which was graceful and succinct.

Caird also translated and wrote hymns.  He translated “Shepherds Come, Their Praises Bringing” (1951) and wrote “Not Far Beyond the Sea, Nor High” and “Almighty Father, Who For Us,” for example.  Hymnal committees that possess good taste include at least some of his hymns in the volumes they produce.

Caird wrote books plus many articles and book reviews.  His books included:

  1. The Truth of the Gospel (1950);
  2. The Apostolic Age (1955);
  3. Principalities and Powers (1956);
  4. The Gospel of St. Luke (1963);
  5. Jesus and God (1965), with D. E. Jenkins;
  6. Jesus and the Jewish Nation (1965);
  7. The Revelation of St. John the Divine (1966);
  8. Our Dialogue with Rome:  The Second Vatican Council and After (1967); and
  9. Paul’s Letters from Prison (1976).

Death prevented Caird from completing New Testament TheologyLincoln Hurst completed this work, published in 1994.

Caird held some scholarly and theological opinions that would have made him anathema in some of the communities in which I grew up in rural southern Georgia. U.S.A.  He admired St. Paul the Apostle without crossing the line into hero worship.  Caird thought of St. Paul as a social revolutionary, including vis-à-vis equality for women.  Caird also disagreed with the great apostle sometimes.  Our saint, like his mentor, C. H. Dodd, argued for Realized Eschatology.  Caird wrote in his commentary on Revelation that the author (“John”) did not expect an imminent end of the age.  Caird would not have pleased anyone at a fundamentalist prophecy conference.

Caird was a social progressive.  He openly supported equality for women and opposed racism.  He, as the Moderator of the United Reformed Church  in 1975-1976, visited South Africa on denominational business.  While there, he confronted his pro-Apartheid counterparts in the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRCSA).  (The Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England had merged into the United Reformed Church in 1972.)  The DRCSA eventually recanted and apologized for its theological defense of Apartheid.  Caird did not live to see that day, however.

Caird, a scholar and a preacher extraordinaire who used either few or no notes, died in Wantage, England, on April 21, 1984.  He was 66 years old.

CONCLUSION

The Bible shaped George Bradford Caird.  He combined intellectual rigor, cautious scholarship, and Christian faith into a synthesis that challenged institutionalized social injustice and individual obliviousness to the (not unanimous) chorus of voices in the Bible.  Our saint, a scholar’s scholar, loved God with his heart, soul, and mind.  His articulate, graceful prose and poetry survives him, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 4, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SIMEON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND PROMOTER OF MISSIONS; HENRY MARTYN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, LINGUIST, TRANSLATOR, AND MISSIONARY; AND ABDUL MASIH, INDIAN CONVERT AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF HENRY SUSO, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC, PREACHER, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN EDGAR PARK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEN CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PAUL CUFFEE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY TO THE SHINNECOCK NATION

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HORNBLOWER GILL, ENGLISH UNITARIAN THEN ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [George B. Caird and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Emanuel Cronenwett (March 9)   1 comment

Butler, Pennsylvania, 1895

Above:  Butler, Pennsylvania, 1895

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-pga-01278

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EMANUEL CRONENWETT (FEBRUARY 22, 1841-MARCH 9, 1931)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator

Invited, Lord, by boundless grace,

I stand a guest before Thy face;

As host Thou spreadst no common food:

Here is Thy body and Thy blood.

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How holy is this Sacrament

Where pardon, peace, and life are spent!

This bread and cup my lips have pressed;

Thou blessedst, and my soul is blessed.

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Now lettest Thou Thy guest depart

With full assurance in his heart.

For such communion, Lord, with Thee

A new life may my off’ring be.

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When Thou shalt in Thy glory come

To gather all Thy people home,

Then let me, as Thy heav’nly guest,

In anthems praise Thee with the blest.

The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), Hymn #308

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Emanuel Cronenwett (1841-1931) was a U.S. Lutheran minister and hymnist.  Our saint entered the world at Scio, near Ann Arbor, Michigan.  His parents were the Reverend George J. Cronenwett, a Lutheran pastor, and Magdalena Knapp Cronenwett.  This George Cronenwett, by the way, was not Georg Cronenwett, the German-born Lutheran circuit rider who planted congregations in northern Ohio.

Emanuel followed in his father’s ministerial footsteps.  Our saint attended Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, founded as the theological seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States (1818-1930).  He served as a minister of that denomination and its immediate successor, the American Lutheran Church (1930-1960).  Cronenwett served for four years at Trinity Lutheran Church, Carrollton, Ohio, from 1863 to 1867.  He spent the next ten years in Wayne County, Ohio, serving the Waynesburg and Wooster congregations, and at Delaware, Delaware County, Ohio.  Then, in 1877, he moved to Butler, Pennyslvania.  For the rest of his life (about 54 years) he was the pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.  During his career he also published a volume of poems and hymns (in 1926), declined the presidency of his alma mater (in 1901), and received his Doctor of Divinity degree from Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania.  When Cronenwett died, on March 9, 1931, he had been ill for two months.  His wife, Eva Catherine Helfinch (1843-1927) and five of their ten children predeceased him.

The magnitude of our saint’s output of hymns–original and translated–was staggering.  Unfortunately, the committee which produced The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) altered most of the Cronenwett texts it included.  (I understand that, as Brian Wren wrote in Praying Twice:  The Music and Words of Congregational Song, 2000, that hymn lyrics are communal property and that certain words and turns of phrase lose their meaning with the passage of time, but the alteration of texts does not help me learn what the author or translator wrote.)  On the other hand, archive.org has made the 1880 and 1908 versions of the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal of the old Ohio Synod easily available.  I invite you, O reader, to consult them, for they contain unaltered Cronenwett texts.  The Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal (1880) lacks an author index, but the Index to First Lines contains the names of authors and translators and features “E. Cronenwett” frequently.  The 1908 hymnal, however, contains an Index of Authors and Sources of Hymns, fortunately.  I encourage you, O reader, to embark on a treasure hunt.

Among the greatest virtues–if not the greatest virtue–of Anglicanism is collegiality.  John Calvin (not an Anglican, of course) allowed for the category of “matters indifferent,” wherein theological disagreements are minor and permissible.  Anglicanism–at least in its more tolerant forms–contains ample room for much disagreement.  (Being sacramental and creedal, not sacramental and confessional, goes a long way toward accomplishing that reality.)  I apply the graciousness of Anglican collegiality in full bloom to Cronenwett, a Confessional Lutheran with whom I would have agreed often and disagreed strongly at least as often.  Yet one must not pass a canonical examination to be a Christian or enter Heaven.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Emanuel Cronenwett and others, who have written and translated hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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